Easy sewing projects: DIY shorts
In this sewing tutorial, I am going to show you how to make 2 pairs of pajama shorts you can see in the images below. And you can find how to make matching pajama tops in my other tutorial here.
But at some point, I decided to draft my own high waisted shorts pattern because I was really tired of those low-cut shorts that won’t stay up without a belt and kept dropping off my hips. I found easy instructions how to make a simple shorts pattern in one of the Russian YouTube tutorials. It was really simple, it didn’t even have side seams and zipper closure, and I could even draw it right on the fabric without a paper pattern. I made a few changes to the basic drawing though.
To my surprise, the first shorts I made with this simple pattern fitted me perfectly. Since then I made lots of shorts and pajamas pants using this pattern.
Here are the steps how you can make the pattern for your own measurements. I hope you are going to have a perfect crotch also and I hope this simple pattern will be good for any lower body shape.
Take the following measurements:
Hip circumference ( hips )
Side length. This is the distance between the waistline and the horizontal surface when you sit down on that surface ( please see image below )
I need to mention here that the traditional way of taking these measurements is to measure the exterior pants length ( from waist to end of leg ) and the interior pant length ( from crotch to end of leg ) and the “side length” is derived as the difference between the two. I am more used to my way of taking the measurement but there is nothing wrong with the traditional method either. The important thing is the end result.
Length of shorts measured from the crotch including the hem ( inner pants leg length )
This pattern has seam allowances already included and they are around 1/4 in.
Please note that I am not a professional seamstress and didn’t finish any pattern making courses. Maybe this pattern breaks some pattern making fundamentals, I don’t know about that. The only thing I know that it fits well and it’s a really easy pattern.
This is a pattern for high rise shorts with an elastic waistband
Draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper and mark on this line a number of points:
Start with Point A
Point B at a distance from A equal to 1/10 hips + 3/8 in
Point C at a distance from B equal to ¼ hips + 3/8 in
Point D at a distance from C equal to ¼ hips + 3/8 in
Point E at a distance from D equal to 1/20 hips + 3/8 in
As you may notice distances B-C and C-D are equal to each other and are equal to ¼ hips + 3/8 in.
Draw a perpendicular to line A-E in point A and mark point A1 at a distance equal to inner pants leg length (for my shorts I used 4 in). Perform a similar operation in point E, distance E-E1 is equal to A-A1. Connect points A1 and E1. This line is parallel to line A-E. The line A1-E1 is our hemline.
Draw a perpendicular to line A-E in point B and mark on this new line two points: B1 at a distance 1/20 hips + 1 3/16 in from B and B2 at a distance from B equal to the measured side length + 1 3/16 in.
Draw a perpendicular to line A-E in point C and mark on this new line one point C1 at a distance equal to the measured side length.
Repeat the process from the step above in point D and mark in a similar fashion points D1 and D2: D1 at a distance 1/20 hips + (plus)1 3/16 in from D and D2 at a distance from D equal to the measured side length — (minus)1 3/16 in.
Draw a perpendicular to line B-B2 in point B2 and mark a point B3 at a distance of 1 3/16 in (for all sizes) from B2. Line B2-B3 is parallel to A-E.
The Grainline is parallel to lines B- B2, C-C2 and D-D2.
Connect points B3, C2 and D2. Please note that the points B3, C2 and D2 are NOT in a straight line; they are close, but not co-linear. This is expected.
Use the French curve ruler to draw a curve through the points B3, B1 and A. Same procedure for a curve from D1 to E, please see the images below.
You can draw this curved lines free hand without the French curve ruler of course.
Well, that’s all for the pattern drafting.
Now lets’ prepare the fabric for the shorts. These guidelines are good also for matching pajama tops (I guess you would like to sew them too; check out this link that goes to my other tutorial).
This pattern is suitable for any kind of knits and also for lightweight and medium weight woven fabric with some kind of stretch in it.
For best results, I prewashed all fabrics and trims in warm water and used my dryer for the gauze and the cotton. As for the chiffon and trims, I air dried it after prewashing and afterwards ironed. Check my tutorial about prewashing silk fabric – click here.
For every sewing project you will need to find at least one straight edge of the fabric so afterwards you can advance from that line on. Fabric cut in the store is not always cut straight. Sometimes the bevel happens to be 5-10 cm or even more. It is very important to straighten fabric edges for any sewing projects BEFORE cutting pattern pieces from it.
If you would like to see a bigger image just click on it and it will open in the same window.
Cut a piece of fabric for the waistband ( the width is 2 widths of your elastic plus 3/4 in for seams and the length is equal 2 lengths of the distance B3-D2)
and 2 silk chiffon hem embellishments ( 2 in wide and the length is equal to the distance A-E) or trims for the hem with the same length.
I used my serger with 4 thread overlock stitch. Thread your serger with suitable threads, change needles if necessary, and try sewing on scrap to check its settings.
Useful tip: You don’t need to buy 4 cones of the same color thread for this 4 thread overlock stitch. I usually have one cone (sometimes 2) and then I use my regular sewing machine to put the thread on 3 bobbins. I use bobbins in my serger but they have to be covered with small spool holders as you can see in the image below.
Useful tip #2: I have easy threaders on my sewing machine and my embroidery machine but I don’t have it on my serger. So threading the needles can be a problem. So I started to thread the needles before inserting them to their place in the serger. See the video below.
If you don’t have a serger maybe it’s time to buy one?
I found some great sergers here
Brother R1634D 3 or 4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed, White (Renewed)
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Janome MOD-8933 Serger with Lay-in Threading, 3 and 4 Thread Convertible with Differential Feed
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Start sewing shorts with stitching inside leg seams. Stitch the short ends of the waistband. Press the seams. Fold the waistband in half and press.
For gauze shorts I used folded strips of silk chiffon and for knit shorts I used matching elastic trims.
The hem on knit fabric has to stay stretchy. Now it became possible to use just a regular sewing machine with just a regular straight stitch for sewing knits. Isn’t that awesome? But we have to use a special stretchable thread that’s called Eloflex.
So wind your bobbin with Eloflex, thread your machine with the same thread and stitch the trims away. If you are wondering where you can buy Eloflex thread here is the affiliate link: https://www.ageberry.com/Eloflex
I made a review of this thread on my blog, check out this article if you are interested:
and where to buy it
I am sure even a beginner sewist could make these shorts in almost no time at all.
If you want to make also matching pajama tops check out my other tutorial.
Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you are ready to sew pajama shorts using my free sewing pattern and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!
Actionable tips, tools and inspiration for people who like to sew. Make fashionable garments together with me @ageberry77